Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Disappointed in Twitter

I may have grey hair but I’m not behind the door when it comes to the internet. I check my email six times a day, I get my news from the net, I’ve published an ebook, I’ve had a blog for five years and post on it two or three times a week.

I am, however, about to give up on Twitter.

Rather, I am about to give up looking for people I want to follow on Twitter. They must be there somewhere, but I have spent six months trying to find them and I have failed.

The Twitter sign-up screen says Twitter helps you follow your interests. Twitter hasn’t helped me. Even the search facility has not helped in finding people who share my interests.

I can understand fully why others like Twitter. I’m not knocking that. I am just saying that it doesn’t work for me, and I am disappointed.

If you haven’t read my two earlier posts on Twitter – here – and here – you may need a recap. I joined Twitter because

  • My son Isaac works for Twitter and I like to support him and understand his work
  • I want to keep up with what he and his family are doing
  • I thought it would help me publicise my latest novel
  • I didn’t want to be one of those old fogeys who asks “What is Twitter?”
  • I might find I liked it – that I would be entertained and stimulated
  • It might be fun

Successes

I have tweeted 288 times since April.

I follow Isaac. His tweets are many and varied – with links to techie stuff, general interests, his excellent photographs, life in San Francisco and his family life. It’s all that a parent 5,000 miles away could ask for. And following the links he tweets, I often find interesting articles on the net.

But there is hardly anyone else I’ve found on Twitter for whom it is worth wading through an onscreen ticker tape of trivia. (exceptions, see below.)

Problems

My key problem – I think - is that not one of my friends is on Twitter, so it is not a way to keep in touch with what they’re doing, and it’s not a way for us to share interesting stuff on the net.

Another problem is that so many tweets are about what is on TV, and about celebrities. I don’t watch TV (except for occasional programmes I catch up on later, on the net.) I care little for celebrities.

I decided that before I concluded this piece, I would give the search facility one more try.

I searched for Palestine, and found several people/organisations who tweet about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They could be fruitful. Time will tell.

I am a Quaker – so I also searched for Quakers. I found a tweet abhorring the unseemly glorying in the end of Gadaffi,

@davidyelland Will we ever learn that brutality breeds brutality and never to glory in it even when an evil man dies. More Quakers on Twitter please....:)

The tweeter’s profile showed that he had some interests overlapping with mine, so I looked at his other tweets. The majority of his latest ones were about football – which I am NOT interested in. This is the heart of the problem. Individual tweeters are usually not single issue fanatics – they are people with many strands to their lives and many different interests. if I sign up to follow an individual because we have one thing in common, i have to put up with all his tweets on my timeline about things I care nothing about. It is the onscreen equivalent of junkmail.

Obviously I am not interested (nor can even understand) some of what Isaac tweets about. But the ratio of “tweets of interest” to “tweets not of interest” is sufficiently high to make me want to follow him. The other ones I have found in this category are

@LettersOfNote    who has links to interesting literary letters

@arjunbasu    who writes 140 character short stories

@greenberg    who writes amusing one-liners (which is probably what I want from strangers on Twitter)

And – of course, my beloved daughter-in-law @wendyverse and granddaughter @thebeean

Show me another way, Twitter. Persuade me otherwise, please.  I am happy to be a guinea-pig for new methods of helping me follow my interests: if you want older people to join up I might be a help.

My interests are:

current affairs, psychology, social science, social justice, the arts, fiction, writing, comedy, playing my saxophone, trying to find time to slackline,  gardening, walking, cycling, knitting, patchwork, and justice for Palestine.

With so many interests, maybe I don’t have time for Twitter.

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